Find the Glimmer of Hope in Your Hurting Marriage... and hold on.
In part 1 of My Marriage is Over, we focused on the importance of running to the throne of God when all hope seems lost. Rather than running on our emotions, we must cling to His promises of love and restoration.
Your call to action was a washing of His Word; letting His truth triumph over any lies you’ve been believing. I pray as you went through the homework that it was a week of building a firm foundation, or restoring a crumbling one, to a life built with Christ as the Cornerstone.
Remember, first and foremost, hope for your marriage hinges on your belief in all that Christ has done for you.
Does this mean our belief in Christ will keep us from experiencing any marital hardships?
But God does not leave us alone in those struggles and sufferings!
When we’re in the throes of all-out war with our spouse, we do NOT feel like sacrificing anything for them. (Just the opposite, in fact). But feelings must take a back seat to God’s Word.
So, what practical advice does God have for us in His Word that we can apply to our hurting marriage?
Let’s look again at the book of Romans.
Explore, embrace, and live out Romans 12
We’re going to camp out here for a bit and break it down, verse by verse.
Look at Romans 12:2.
Romans 12:2 tells us, Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Our culture screams loud and clear that…
Divorce is not only a viable choice, but right, and even necessary in some cases
Lusting after another is okay, even expected, if our spouse isn’t satisfying our needs
It is no longer my life’s purpose to love my spouse with everything I have, rather, it should be their life’s purpose to love me with everything they have
If they don’t love me like I deserve to be loved, I’m justified in getting out
God says loud and clear that…
We are to love our spouse the most when he/she deserves it the least
His will for our marriage is good, pleasing, and perfect, whether we believe it or not
We must humbly say: YOUR way, God, not mine.
(To go deeper, listen to How to Practically Apply the Bible to Your Marriage, Part 2.)
Call to mind often the answers to these questions:
1) What is God’s purpose for marriage?
2) Specifically, what is His plan for our marriage?
3) Am I paying more attention to what the world tells me to do, or what God is saying?
Romans 12:3 warns us, Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.
When we want out of our marriage, we look for ways to justify ending it. We focus on all the negatives, highlight all our spouse’s wrongs that we would never do.
Let’s be honest: have we rightfully considered our responsibility to be used in our spouse’s restoration (and vice versa)?
We must remind ourselves that…
We each have our own set of weaknesses
Together we are probably not weak in the same areas
We are stronger together than separated
We both need the same Savior
Romans 12:4-5 says, Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
Do you see that God created you and your spouse with your own special functions? You both have roles to fill.
You may be thinking, But how can we be ONE when only one of us is fulfilling our roles?
When your spouse isn’t “pulling their weight”, see it as an opportunity to give grace. Make it your goal to provide reprieve, training, and a loving example, NOT to alienate, degrade, or belittle.
Romans 12:6-8 continues, In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So, if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
We are called to use our gifts for God’s glory and other people’s gain, NOT our own glory and gain. We are human, so we are inclined, in our gifts, to consider ourselves the source and expert.
Remember you are a tool in God’s hand… NOT God’s hand.
If you’re in a failing marriage, use your God-given gifts to serve your spouse. Watch their reaction when you
· Give to them generously
· Encourage them profusely
· Serve them diligently
· Lead with humility
· Teach your children Biblical principles
· Speak about your faith and loving relationship your heavenly Father
Watch what happens when your kindness surpasses their mistakes.
When they see your teachable heart under God’s hand, their heart will soften.
Romans 12:9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.
Oy. How many times have I been kind and generous to a stranger, then given angry, hateful words to the man and children God gave me? It’s easy to smile at a stranger because they haven’t hurt us, but we show our true colors at home when we think no one else is watching.
We must hold tight to what is GOOD for our marriage. Stop giving lip service with those three little words: “I love you”; back them up with action.
So, answer the question: What speaks love to your spouse?
Romans 12:10 Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other.
Genuine affection looks different for different people. Does your spouse need quality time? Or does physical touch say love to them? (A good resource to help you learn your spouse’s “love language” is The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman.)
Look at the second half of that verse. Honor comes when we revere someone. In a hurting marriage, we tend to make our spouse “perform.” They must earn our praises by being perfect… or at least close to it. But since we’re sitting in a place of judgment, those moments never come.
And we fail to give them the love and honor for which they are so desperate.
Romans 12:11 encourages us: Never be lazy but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.
Lazy? ME? Never.
I just lied in a Biblical marriage blog.
Let’s be real. They call it a “honeymoon period” for a reason. It’s a season when loving our spouse comes easily. But 5 years and 4 kids into a marriage and things get hard… REALLY hard.
That is why we need this reminder- to never be lazy when it comes to serving the Lord by loving our spouse. We’ll need God’s help in giving us the enthusiasm to work hard in giving our time, energy, and attention to loving our spouse. Even when we feel we have nothing left to invest.
Romans 12:12 gives more encouragement: Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble and keep on praying.
Has your patience run out? PRAY.
In times of trouble, pray.
In times of doubt, pray.
In times of hopelessness, pray for the confident hope only God can give.
For more encouragement, listen to Prayer is a Powerful Tool for Your Marriage.
Romans 12:13, 15 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other
When we’re angry with our spouse, it’s easy to focus on the wrongs they have done, the pain they have caused, and what we need them to do to make it right. In those times, it is so hard to see their needs. When we focus on our spouse’s failures, we see only what they owe us.
We must set aside our feelings and look to their needs.
Help her. Because…
Obedience to God’s Word ALWAYS yields fruit!
Romans 12:16 & 18 are about unity and humility. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
Don’t for one minute think you’re any better than your spouse. We are all in need of the same Savior, remember?
IN HIM, ALL things (even a shattered marriage) hold together.
Some final verses to soak in…
Romans 12:14, 17, 19-20- Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Never pay back evil with more evil.
Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.
Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to God. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.”
Don’t let evil conquer you but conquer evil by doing good.
Vow to change: an encouraging call to action
I’ll keep the challenge simple this week. If you feel hopeless in your marriage, do these two things:
When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. (Thanks, FDR!) Tie a knot around Romans 12 and hang on to the promises of God’s Word with everything you’ve got.
Pray the following prayer every day, at least once a day, in the weeks/months ahead. Set a reminder in your phone so you don’t forget. Write it down and take it with you. Pay attention to how God works and changes your heart and your marriage. Keep record of how He is answering your prayers. You can start with this one…
You are merciful, gracious, and abounding in steadfast love.
Help me to trust in Your ways and believe that no matter how hard they are, Your ways are always best; help my unbelief.
Lord, you have given me (your spouse’s name) to love and honor. Help me to love him/her the way he/she most needs.
Help us both to see that we are better together than we are apart.
Give me a soft, teachable heart.
In my marriage, help me (with Your supernatural strength) to embrace and put into practice the instructions in Romans 12.
Lord, I trust You. You are faithful and good in ALL You do.
Give us both hope when there is none.
I place our marriage in Your most capable hands.
All this I ask in Jesus’ most Holy Name.
I love You. Amen.
Check it out
Alright, you’re trying to work on your marriage. Meanwhile, you have little people- or grown people- who are testing every limit, pushing every button, and stressing your marriage even more.
Parenting is no easy job, but our God does not leave us to figure it out for ourselves. Check out Parenting is HARD! to find direction and encouragement in one of God’s greatest callings.
Listen to the corresponding podcast: